Winter Park pursues new Medical Arts zoning to promote hospital campus growth

Bob Moser
GrowthSpotter

The City of Winter Park is pursuing adoption of a new Medical Arts zoning district, which can help real estate developers and healthcare providers expand and densify their medical campus developments. 

In the past few years the city has wanted to create a new zoning category that could be applied to the Winter Park Memorial Hospital area to encourage its growth and development.

City staff wrote the zoning language exclusively, but worked with Florida Hospital administrators in developing guidelines for the new zoning district, said Jeff Briggs, planning manager for the city.

"It has been collaborative to help them try and grow that campus," he told GrowthSpotter on Tuesday. "The hospital is an important part of the city, so this is something we want to have happen." 

Implementation took its first step in April 2017 with the city's adopted update of its Comprehensive Plan, to include the relevant Future Land Use category. Staff then had to create a zoning district.

The new Medical Arts zoning district went before the Planning and Zoning Board on Tuesday for its recommendation, as an amendment to the city's land development code. It goes next to the City Commission in late April, and a second reading in mid-May for adoption. 

Florida Hospital and its parent company Adventist Health System/Sunbelt own more than 28.8 acres on and around the Winter Park Memorial Hospital, across nearly 20 parcels that lie southeast of the Aloma Avenue and Lakemont Avenue intersection.

Much of that land outside the hospital's 17-acre footprint is currently single-story office or surface parking, ripe for redevelopment as new multi-story medical office buildings and parking garages. 

"(Florida Hospital) doesn't want to sprawl over the whole neighborhood to the east, they have no intention to go out and buy properties to expand their campus," Briggs said. "They told us they want to eventually densify their campus with medical buildings, and would need a parking garage to serve that. This new zoning district would allow them to do that." 

Part of the Florida Hospital land is currently under construction by Brasfield & Gorrie for the hospital's new 160,000-square-foot Nicholson Pavilion, which will add 140 all-private patient rooms and a new lobby, and is projected to open in mid-2019. 

On the west side of Lakemont Avenue, directly across from the hospital, all of the aged medical office buildings there are independently owned and operated. The new zoning district will offer opportunity for Adventist Health or other developers to assemble those parcels and redevelop. 

The Medical Arts district is meant to encourage development of hospitals, clinics, medical offices and wellness/fitness facilities. Complementary retail and food service businesses will be permitted, and it all should encourage urban infill, per the ordinance language.

Minimum building site size must be at least 2 acres, and have at least 100 feet of frontage on a public street. Land must be zoned for office or commercial as a prerequisite, so there is no backdoor route for residential lots to be assembled and rezoned, Briggs said. 

Medical Arts zoning can be applied almost anywhere in the city where a major medical user is now established, but won't be permitted in Winter Park's Central Business District or Hannibal Square district. 

"Another main example in our city that could use this zoning district is the Jewett Orthopaedic Clinic on N. Orange Avenue. So if they wanted to build more on their much smaller campus they'd have the opportunity," Briggs said. "That's what the city wants, to keep these medical uses and help them grow and prosper." 

Have a tip about Central Florida development? Contact me at bmoser@growthspotter.com, (407) 420-5685 or @bobmoser333. Follow GrowthSpotter on Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn.

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